26 November 2022

The banjo's hidden history, and much more, in BBN

In the latest issue - no. 99, autumn 2022 - of British Bluegrass News (BBN), the magazine of the British Bluegrass Music Association (BBMA), the cover story is on Noel Dashwood, perhaps the no. 1 dobro player in Britain and an instructor in dobro at previous Sore Fingers events. In addition to the four-page interview by Trevor Hyett, Dashwood's new album receives two reviews, one by Brian Dowdall and one by the UK country bandleader Hank Wangford, with whose band he often plays.

Maria Wallace of the True North Music agency contributes two articles: one on Canada's Slocan Ramblers (photo above), who toured the UK twice this year (having toured Ireland in 2017 and 2019, and played at this year's Bluegrass Omagh festival); and one on Stuart Williams, leading figure of the Cheshire bluegrass scene. Cheshire is relatively accessible from Dublin, so bluegrassers from Ireland should look up the Helsby Bluegrass Club website.

The many other good things in the issue include Eric Kwiatkowski's confessions of a serial instrument-buyer, and 'Tab corner', devoted to the three-part Bill Monroe composition 'The Golden West', with Jack Baker's substantial commentary on Monroe's music and on bluegrass in California.

A good deal of thought and comment is sure to be stimulated by Kristina R. Gaddy's new book Well of souls: uncovering the banjo's hidden history. Matt Hutchinson interviewed the author in an hour-long podcast, of which an abridged transcript appears in this issue of BBN. The book has a foreword by Rhiannon Giddens; a sample can be read on Amazon.co.uk.

© Richard Hawkins

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